Friday, November 17, 2017

"Your 'Assignment,' should you choose to accept it..."

I pay visits to our Blue-and-White Panopticon -- several times a day, usually. There is plenty to protest and eschew in its matrix, but the one element a user cannot avoid is probably its most insidious evil -- the "Like" button.
I don't "like" where this is going...
It initially seemed innocuous. C'mon, you approve this message, or at least acknowledge that you've absorbed some measure of its significance to the person proclaiming it -- go ahead and "like" it, why doncha?
From 'Aleister & Adolf' - check it out.
Posting or reading/watching anything behind the blue-and-white velvet rope is a pressing invitation to signal your "Like." This simple, single click adds up. All these "little" signals get fed into the algorithm, and your existence on the internet becomes ever more tailored to your particular . . . what? "Tastes"? "Passions"? "Cravings"? "Yearnings"? "Mortal fears"? "Obsessions"?


This isn't just what passes for public discourse, it is what passes for your lived reality.

It's too easy, I don't trust it. I don't trust what others "like." And I think I've reached the point where I no longer even trust what I "like." I want -- I daresay I need -- to give consideration to things I might at first blush "dislike."

Hey, have you seen that new, critically reviled Walter Hill flick -- the one Scout Tafoya is absolutely gaga over?
"Wouldn't even if you held a gun to my head..."
Not me -- not yet, at least. But I plan to. I expect when it's over the experience will be akin to the last half-dozen Hill films I've sat through -- largely underwhelming, but just clumsy enough with its provocations to get me cogitating in unexpected directions. A worthy investment of time, no?

Getting back to Tafoya's terrific shout-out, I particularly dug this quote:
"Any film that has a conversation about other films and why it's better than those movies doesn't need you. 'The Assignment' does. Hill has filled it with questions he hopes an audience can answer because he seems genuinely curious, and knows that at his age some things will escape him. It needs us."
Reading that evoked memories of late-night conversations in hippie* kitchens, where so long as you spoke sincerely absolutely no question was considered beyond the pale of consideration. And couldn't we use more of that?

Alright: until next week, the balcony is closed.
"'The balcony is closed' - we like that!"
*And really, what was "Grunge" but our desperate shot at a scene we'd heard the babysitter describe to us?


paul bowman said...

Yet to read Aleister & Adolf. Wouldn’t mind owning it, and it’s running pretty cheap on Amazon, but I’ve just put it in as a recommendation for the library system here. They have a lot of Rushkoff’s usual stuff, not surprisingly. (Really ought to read some of those too.) We’ll see what happens.

Whisky Prajer said...

I'm super-keen on A&A (can you tell?) and think it leagues ahead of Rushkoff's usual, which I still hold in fairly high regard. I get the impression from him he holds the same assessment of this particular work. Before A&A the last Rushkoff item I perused was Program Or Be Programmed which I still think should be mandatory reading for kids. Good luck persuading mine to pick it up, though.

paul bowman said...

I got my hands on a copy for the first time on Monday, in an upper west side bookstore I don’t get to very often (nice little chain of the kind that hardly exists outside Manhattan & Brooklyn, owned by a friend of S.’s dad). Was not surprised at, but found I wasn’t quite prepared for, either, the dominance of quasi-pornographic depiction in the story. Didn’t really have time to get into it, in any case. As it happens, I’m informed by email here at end of week that the Queens system has purchased a copy and it’s waiting for me at my branch — ‘Adult Hard Cover.’

Whisky Prajer said...

"Quasi-pornographic" - hm. I could've said a word of warning, I suppose. I guess I took it for granted that coverage of Crowley would naturally tilt in that direction.

paul bowman said...

No, no need for a heads up. As I say, not surprised. I’ve listened to an interview or two with Rushkoff & Oeming, and read review material here & there. More a comment on my own sensibilities than the book. (Which I’ve picked up from the library now, so will refrain from further comment till I’ve had a chance to process decently.)

Darrell Reimer said...

A library loan is best, IMO. I paid for digital content, which I also recommend. It's a good book, but not one to burden my shelves with.